A FUNNY SHORT STORY BY ME.
Manoj Kumar was a typical egotistical male who believed in treating women like a doormat. He also believed in astrology so much that he would consult his family astrologer for pretty much everything. He was lazy to the core and would find reasons to procrastinate his share of work and responsibilities. His parents, Jayakant and Vimla, were responsible for spoiling him, as he was their only sin, oops, son.
Manoj was married to a sensible lady, Anusha, who tolerated his idiocy for over 15 years. Manoj was neither smart, nor as educated as his wife. Naturally, his larger than the head, ego prevented her from going for a job and he kept finding faults with her.
Manoj and Anusha had a daughter, Akriti, (13). Manoj was disappointed that he had a daughter but his family astrologer had told him that according to his astrological chart, he was destined to have a daughter only. Even if he tried for another child, the second one would be a daughter too. Hence, he had stopped sharing a bed with her.
When Covid-19 was at its peak, he ensured that they always wore masks, drank only hot water, followed social distancing and other norms. A friend had sent him a message on WhatsApp that germs also entered by way of mouth. Manoj said, ” My friend, Ashok, says that we should not open our mouth frequently because there’s a risk of germs, especially the CoronaVirus getting into our mouth. ” Anusha was fed up of listening to his idiotic thoughts. She retorted, ” Didn’t he tell you that the air we breathe is highly polluted? So, should we stop breathing by stuffing cotton balls in our nose?” Manoj turned red as Akriti couldn’t help giggling.
His parents were shocked at her instantaneous reply. Her mother-in-law, Vimla, said, ” Anu, you aren’t supposed to talk to your husband like that. He is your God. You should respect him. You must do whatever he says.” Jayakant also offered his opinion but Anu was in no mood to listen. She stopped serving food and walked away. Manoj said, ” My dear wife never raised her voice against me for the past 15 years. Perhaps, she’s possessed by the devil. Tomorrow I will call our family astrologer, Sharma ji to seek his opinion.” Anusha heard his remark and came back with a glass of water refilled for her father-in-law. She replied with a grin, ” You are right. Sharma ji isn’t an ordinary astrologer. He is an Ass- waiting to be trolled and kicked by his once eager clients whom he fleeced with his hair brained remedies.” This time Akriti burst out laughing while her grandparents and father glared at her. ” Enough of your cheeky response, Anu”, claimed Manoj, raising his hand to slap her. She hit back, “You believe everything that is shared on WhatsApp, right? My friend, Anita, sent me a message that men who raise their right hand on their wives, are getting cursed and some of them have lost their left hands. Do you know what it means? It means that you will be forced to eat and wipe away your shit with your right hand.” Manoj got scared.
He and his parents finished their dinner in silence which was quite unusual. Most of their dinner time conversation always involved making fun of Anusha and Akriti. Manoj considered himself a perfectionist. He thought that he was such a genius that no job in the world was perfect for him. So, he became a financial consultant at home and made a decent income. He was the boss of the house and the rules that he made were meant to be followed by everyone except himself.
One day, Anusha’s friend, Vaidehi, came to visit her from London. She bought her an expensive black colored sari. Manoj was quick to interfere, ” Vaidehi, you should never give anything in black as a gift to anyone. Black is inauspicious.” Anusha wanted to slap him. She never interfered in his private conversation with his male friends. How dare he enter her room without knocking and pass unwanted comments? She said, ” He is right, Vaidehi. I can’t accept anything in black. Do you have the contact number for the Luxury Hairstylist? I am planning to dye my hair purple or would shave it off completely. ls that alright with you? “
As per the old Hindu rituals, only a widow was supposed to have her head shaved to disfigure her beauty after the death of her husband. Vaidehi turned her gaze away, as she couldn’t hold back her laughter. Humiliated, Manoj left the room.
He wanted to teach her a lesson. When it was dinner time, he tried feigning illness by clutching his hand over his heart and said, ” I am having a chest pain. I think it’s a heart attack.” Anusha was alarmed but Akriti held her hand and said, ” Relax, mom! Dad’s faking it. How can he have a heart attack when he doesn’t have a heart? Also, he won’t get brain cancer because he doesn’t have a brain.” Manoj seethed in rage and yelled, ” You imbecile woman! You are brainwashing my daughter by feeding her with poisonous talks. You are teaching her to disrespect me.” Anusha responded, ” What about you calling me names and encouraging her to answer me back? It’s alright just because you are a man, right? ” Her parents in law seemed to be enjoying their heated exchange and shifted their vision according to the speaker.
Akriti realized the seriousness of her jokes. She said, ” Sorry, dad! Please forgive me. Don’t scold mom.” Her paternal grandma, Vimla intervened, ” Shame on you, Anu. You taught her how to talk but didn’t teach her the kitchen duties. She’s already 13 and in 5 years, she’s going to be married. We have already found her a match.” Anu snorted, ” You should be ashamed of yourself. You blame me for not teaching her to cook but you are prepared to coach her on how to smoke. Thank you for your match. It’s defective and already burned out.” Vimla gritted her teeth, ” ‘I am not talking about the match as in match box. I am talking about a match as in marriage.”
Anu replied, ” The context doesn’t matter because the purpose of both kinds of matches is to set our lives on fire.” Her mother in law was speechless. But Akriti said, ” Granny, calm down. I will make a nice cup of tea for all.” She went to kitchen and started a monologue, ” Welcome to Akriti’s kitchen. Today, I am going to teach you how to make tea. First, take some water in a kettle and let it boil like your grandfather who’s having constipation problem. Take a piece of ginger that looks like your grandma and crush it with a pestle. Let the water boil and add tea leaves. Add milk and sugar and sieve it. “
Vimla and Jayakant were furious. So was Manoj. They skipped dinner.
Vimla had concocted a plan. She and Jayakant bribed Astrologer Sharma to visit Manoj and convince him to give up his daughter for adoption. Only then his business prospects would improve. Sharma played his part so skilfully that Manoj immediately gave his consent to give up Akriti for adoption. Anusha argued with him at length but to no avail.
She saw the wicked grins on the faces of Sharma, Vimla, Jayakant and Manoj. She had to save her daughter. She went away without responding which they misunderstood to be her submission. She let them gloat but determined to teach all three a lesson. She called her brother and told him about their evil conspiracy. He said, ” Don’t you worry, sis. I, and my wife, Pooja, will fetch Akriti and let her stay with us for a week. ‘we would be wearing disguises.” He told her how to proceed.
Later, Anusha went to Sharma’s house and threatened to call Income Tax officials to raid his residence and office premises, if he didn’t call off the appointment of the couple to whom he had made arrangements for the adoption. He also promised to confess to misleading Manoj for 15 years as per his parents’ instructions.
The next day, everything went according to the plan. Anusha’s brother and sister-in-law took Akriti away. Meanwhile, Anusha had changed Manoj’s mobile caller tune. Instead of a movie song, the new caller tune was :
The idiot you have called has ceased to exist.
Consequently, he lost important contracts as no one called him, thinking him to be dead and incurred heavy business losses. He was furious. Instead of making more money as predicted by Sharma, he had suffered a lot. Sharma kept his promise and confessed to his crime of giving false information and that his own parents had paid him money so that they could control him. He lashed out at his parents and dropped them off at a retirement home, promising never to see their faces again.
He felt ashamed of his stupidity and was so heart broken that Anusha could not help but feel sorry for him. She also told him that Akriti was safe and with her maternal uncle and grandparents. She had to do this to save their only child. They apologized to each other and hugged. Manoj promised to treat her with respect and shower all his love and affection towards her and Akriti to which Anusha also gave her commitment to stay with him through thick and thin.
Their days of misery were finally over, and a new chapter marked the beginning of happiness in their lives.
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